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Leverette’s Triple Threat Boxing and MMA is a haven for Southeast | Sports

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Stepping into Triple Threat Boxing and MMA unleashes vibes from a Rocky movie. 

The main gym features a pair of rings and a mat for mixed martial arts training. Scattered throughout the gym are different boxing and cardio equipment: several punching bags, a speed bag, a heavy bag, a squat rack, weight machines, ropes, mirrors, treadmills, stationary bikes and more.

Toward the exits are refrigerators and freezers stocked with ice and sports drinks to keep gymgoers fueled for their sessions.

In the office sits Charles “Coach Lev” Leverette, a real life Rocky.

Leverette has owned Triple Threat since August 2015 following a 22-year Army career. He fills his office with boxing memorabilia to ensure the facility feels as homey as possible for everyone.

His desk chair has an Alabama Crimson Tide patch, displaying his hometown roots. Hanging on his office walls are dozens of credentials from boxing events he has coached through the years, a green World Boxing Council belt gifted to him from coaches at Team USA Boxing. 

Leverette grabs an item from the back corner of his office and lights up like a kid during the holidays. 



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Coach Charles Leverette talks to one of his young protégés. He doesn’t remember all their names and instead calls them all “nephew” or “baby girl.” 



“This is the one right here,” Leverette said as he unveiled a letter signed by former United States President Barack Obama. “Gotta bring this one out every once in a while to let these kids know about my Army days!” 

Leverette then lifts a belt smaller than his green WBC title, but his grin indicated this one also has special meaning. 

The mini championship belt has two name plates on the left and right sides that read “TTB” – Triple Threat Boxing. Leverette said each quarter, young people who “have outstanding grades” receive this belt.

“We collect report cards every quarter and I hand these [belts] out every quarter,” Leverette said. “Our motto is, ‘No books, no box.’ If your grades are not right, you can’t come to the gym to box, but we’re gonna sit you down in these desks out front so you can get your homework right. I’m from Alabama and I grew up where it was always an adult or somebody’s parents somewhere watching over you.” 

More than a gym

The name “Triple Threat,” symbolizes Leverette’s Christian beliefs in the holy trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. However, the meaning is fluid. 

“It’s not just boxing that we teach, we show them manners; how to dress, how to tie ties,” Leverette said. “We have tutors who come through to help kids with schoolwork. We’re teaching them boxing but we’re also showing them life skills.”

Donell Branch, a coach at Triple Threat, said the facility resembles a mentoring program, which is the atmosphere coaches aim to achieve. 

While Leverette, Branch and coaches enjoy teaching discipline, work ethic and self-defense, showing each child their importance to society remains the priority.

“Watch this,” Branch said. “If I get up to go high-five them, all of them will give me a high-five.” 

Kids completed their footwork drills as Branch approached the group of 20 as they stood in line. Sure enough, each high-fived Branch as he exited the gym.  

“They’re looking for that ‘atta boy. They see our coaching as constructive criticism and they’re willing to try [drills],” Branch said. “Some of these kids don’t have both parents in their lives and live in single-parent homes. For a kid to see somebody outside of their home care about them is major.”



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Charles Leverette encourages his young boxing students during their warm-up. Even though his gym attracts the best athletes from around the world, he is most proud of the kids who attend his boxing program.



Meanwhile, Leverette brings the cool uncle energy throughout workouts. This is heightened by Leverette calling boys “nephew” and girls “baby girl.” 

“I don’t call them by their name because I don’t want to ruffle feathers with any of the kids,” Leverette said. “If I remember Romeo’s name but I don’t remember Justin’s name, then Justin is gonna feel some type of way. He might not ever say it, but he’s gonna think, ‘Man, why does he know his name but won’t call my name?’”

As kids prepared for a Thursday circuit workout, Leverette boosted the volume on music blaring through the gym’s speakers. As the song “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled, T-Pain, Ludacris, Rick Ross and Snoop Dogg played, Leverette sang and mimed the lyrics. 

“And every time I step up in the building everybody hands go up,” Leverette said while raising his arms, essentially performing karaoke. “And they stay there! And they stay there! And they stay there! Up, down, up, down, up, down.” 

Laughter ensued as children watched Leverette shift paradigms from singer to instructor as he explained the circuit kids needed to complete. 

“The most unused medicine in the world is laughter,” Leverette said. “You can be angry, but the first time you crack a smile, whatever you had in front of you or behind you disappears. We need to pass out laughter more often.” 

I bet I will

Leverette’s boxing career began November 1997 with a bet. 

Leverette said his platoon leader bet he couldn’t win a boxing match in Fort Polk, Louisiana, at a boxing smoker, which is an unsanctioned boxing match. 

If Leverette won, he got a trip home to Brent, Alabama. If Leverette lost, he had to wash his platoon leader’s car.

“I was young and brash back then,” Leverette said. “I was like, ‘I’m pound for pound the best athlete the Army ever recruited.’” 



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Mikaela Mayer, 2016 American Olympian and super-featherweight world champion, works out at Triple Threat Boxing. 



Leverette backed his bravado with victories and a trip home. The wins continued to mount until Leverette received an invite to All Army, a feeder program that provides Army athletes a chance to make the World Class Athlete Program (WCAP).

He finished second and third at the All Army venue, but, he said, with regret in his voice, “I never won it.” 

Those second- and third-place finishes pushed Leverette to sharpen his boxing skills. As an Alabama boy, Leverette said athletics came naturally, but boxing required more focus. 

Leverette not only improved as a boxer, but in 2004, as a staff sergeant, he qualified for the Olympic Trials and nearly made the United States’ boxing team. 

“I took bronze but at the time, [Team USA Boxing] only took the top two, so I fell one man short,” Leverette said. 

Finishing third proved serendipitous for Leverette. He retired from boxing after his bronze medal and likely wouldn’t have had the juice to continue. 

Leverette competed on a Saturday in Mississippi and flew to Colorado Springs on a Sunday morning for surgery on his right elbow, which contained bone fragments —a souvenir of his previous bouts.

“It was bittersweet to overcome that but it just wasn’t God’s calling for me to go to the Olympics,” Leverette said. “He helped guide me and put me in that seat to become assistant coach under my mentor. And I was surrounded by a lot of great coaches for Team USA Boxing.” 

Leverette served as a coach for Team USA Boxing in 2012 and coached Adrien Broner prior to his rise in the boxing ranks to several world championships.

In 2015, Leverette retired from the Army and briefly from boxing. But his work as a coach had just begun. 

God’s Plan

Leverette expected to relax upon retirement from the Army. He certainly didn’t have “open a gym” on his bucket list. 

“My goal was to ride off into the sunset,” Leverette said. “I’d play a little golf, do a little fishing. But it wasn’t in God’s plans for me to shut it down.”

As unique a road Leverette took to start boxing, he took another wild ride to start Triple Threat. Gary Jonas, previously the manager for Sammy Vasquez Jr., made a wild suggestion to Leverette to open a boxing gym to continue teaching the sport.

Leverette already lived in an ideal spot to attract fighters: Olympic City USA with its great elevation for conditioning.   



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Coach Bob Ware from Las Vegas wraps Amir Khan’s hand. Khan is a British professional boxer and a former lightweight-world champion.



“[Jonas] came to me and said, ‘Hey, we need some way to train and you can head this up and I’d like for you to [run this gym],” Leverette said. “At first I was skeptical about running it. Like I said, my plan was to do a little hunting and do a little fishing after retirement. But that wasn’t in God’s plans for me. 

“But the process happened fast. Gary sent the lease over to his lawyer, got it back and everything looked good. Gary called me that Sunday evening, came in here after church, dropped the keys in my hand and I haven’t seen him since. Things have run smoothly so he hasn’t had much of a need to come around.”

Leverette has used some of his finances to supply the gym with various treadmills, saunas, wrestling mats, weights, benches and other equipment. 

He’s also made it home to notable fighters: Amir Khan, Terence Crawford, Vasquez Jr., Mikaela Mayer, Naomi Graham and Harrison High School graduate Raquel Pennington.

“Every day somebody comes into the gym and reminds me what my purpose in life is,” Leverette said, “and that’s to build this community.”

For the Southeast

“Ready? Work time!” 

The question and two-word exclamation identify the second-to-last round of circuit training for the evening.  

Kids, gassed from the near 30-minute exercise, fight to complete their workouts as family members and coaches watch their efforts. 

Amanda Lasham watched with a smile as her two children, Andres, 13, and Samantha, 11, wrapped their portion of the circuit.

Last year, Andres and Samantha started at the gym after previously participating in wrestling. Lasham said her kids did not care for wrestling, but enjoy boxing. 

While her kids “love the coaches” and exercising aspect of Triple Threat, Lasham enjoys the additional family aspect. 

“My husband is in the military and there are times when he’s not available,” Lasham said. “To have Coach Lev and Coach [Chris] Downs for my son and daughter. It means a lot to them. They look up to their coaches and do not like to disappoint their coaches at all.”  

Lasham said it is satisfying to see Leverette and the other coaches embrace her kids after a mistake or listen to them inspire Samantha and Andres. 



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Charles Leverette is no stranger to the boxing ring. He earned a bronze medal at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials. In 2012 he was an assistant coach with the U.S. Olympic boxing team.



“The kids feel comfortable and there’s no place like it, we’re military and it’s hard to find a place that treats you like family,” Lasham said. “Coach Lev and the coaches here make you feel as such. All moms are moms of the gym, all dads are dads of the gym. The little boys he calls nephew, the little girls he calls baby girl. They embrace everyone as their family. It’s a humble place to be.” 

As Leverette circled the gym, watching all 20 kids finish their circuit, he carried a smile as kids huddle up for their upcoming instruction, acknowledging the difficulty of the workout.  

Leverette coaches around 100 kids and said each has “vastly improved” since entering the gym. He said he’s grateful “God wasn’t done with me” after retirement. 

He has built a sanctuary for kids who may not have one at home and created a formidable training center for pros fighting to remain sharp. 

At some point, Leverette plans to return to Alabama to do the same, but he has laid his hat in Colorado Springs for now.  

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“Charity starts at home and spreads abroad,” Leverette said. “If I’m gonna live here then I’d rather be hands on with the kids. Second, if I’m gonna live here, I’d rather one of these kids come knock on my door to check on me rather than kick in my door trying to rob me. The only way I know for sure that I can sleep better is being hands on with the kids in this community.” 

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